Mental Health Awareness Month: Dealing With Rejection / Criticism

October is Mental Health Awareness month, giving Australians the chance to take a step back and reflect on how they can support the people around them. We wanted to contribute by writing an article that generates conversation about mental health with a recruitment perspective.

Being rejected for a job hurts. Just like receiving negative feedback hurts. It’s only human for your emotive mechanics to come into play in these unavoidable situations. With every job application and interview follows the fear of rejection. As an employer, It’s actually quite likely according to statistics, that you will have an employee who suffers from a mental illness at some point in your career, whether it’s known to you or not. Navigating the topic of mental health can be difficult and uncomfortable for some, however, a study conducted by Beyond Blue found that 91% of Australian employees believe mental health in the workplace is important. There are strategies and tactics both the employer and employee can take to ensure the workplace is a mentally healthy environment.

Delivering and receiving constructive criticism

There is no doubt that a negative stigma surrounds the topic of criticism. It’s never going to sit well when someone critiques the work you put so much of your time and effort into, however, there is a reason it’s often rephrased in the workplace as ‘constructive’ feedback.  As an employee, having a positive outlook will determine how you respond and react to difficult conversations. Rather than viewing constructive criticism as a negative, see it as an opportunity for personal growth and development. Instead of asking yourself, what did I do wrong? Ask yourself, what can I learn from this? Or, what’s the next step?

As an employer, the approach you take to deliver criticism will determine how your employee will feel about the situation. Constructive criticism is a fundamental and inevitable stepping stone for employee growth. Take a subtle approach to the conversation and talk through what needs to be improved. Give your employee an explanation, why does it need to be improved? What isn’t working? The biggest mistake a lot of employers make is finishing the conversation with the negative. Before finishing the conversation, also highlight the positive components of their work. For example you could say, “Although that didn’t work, I liked how you approached this task.” If an employee feels supported and appreciated, they will be more likely to deliver results.

Dealing with rejection

From a young age, we’re told not to take anything personally. The truth is, rejection is never going to feel good, even if you saw it coming. When you apply for a job you invest yourself into that relationship, you want it to work out and you’ve put your time and energy into writing what you hoped was the perfect cover letter. It’s going to be disappointing when that relationship doesn’t work out, but there are ways you can better handle the situation. You don’t want to be left with questions unanswered. Ask the employer or recruiter why you weren’t successful in the position, and ask what improvements you could make to your application before applying for future jobs. This will give you peace of mind and avoid any assumptions.

At New Point Recruitment, we understand that rejecting candidates is a necessary component of the hiring process. Our director, David Ford, says he has always remembered the quote “Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.” Tact personifies the importance of interpersonal skills and smooths difficult conversations. While a candidate might be unsuccessful in a job position, it doesn’t’ mean they couldn’t be the ideal fit for another role. We value the relationships we have with all our candidates and if unsuccessful they will remain in our network and can choose to be updated with future job opportunities.

In part 2 of our article, we will be focusing on wellbeing and discussing mental health within the workplace… stay tuned…

Thanks for reading,

Sophie and David